Navigating Legal Challenges in the Growing Cannabis Industry

Cannabis Law Journal Conference – Present and Proposed Legal Issues for the Cannabis Industry

As cannabis and cannabis-derived products continue to become legalized at the state level, regulatory schemes vary widely while federal policy remains ambiguous. This conference will examine present and proposed legal issues for this unique industry that impacts many FDA regulated product categories.

She advises clients on a wide range of commercial, regulatory and compliance matters related to the cannabis industry.

Legal Issues

As the cannabis industry grows, lawyers advising clients in this space face numerous ethical and legal challenges. The main obstacle is federal law, which still outlaws marijuana. Consequently, business attorneys have to be extra vigilant about monitoring developments in this area, as well as about fine tuning their antenna to ensure compliance with state laws.

For example, a bank that provides banking services to a cannabis company could face criminal or civil liability under federal law. This has hindered the ability of banks and other financial institutions to provide such services to state-licensed cannabis businesses.

The practice of cannabis law is constantly evolving as state and local laws change and the broader legal industry embraces cannabis for medicinal and recreational use. Attorneys in the practice must be aware of changes at all levels of government as they arise, and be ready to advise their clients about these changes.


Despite federal prohibition of cannabis, some states have legalized the drug for both medical and recreational use. This has created a complex regulatory environment, with federal and state laws conflicting over banking, employment, taxation and more. It also has led to the creation of “hall monitors” for work places, who can recognize if adults are high on the job.

Ricardo Lopez focuses his practice on corporate transactions, regulatory and compliance matters for clients in the cannabis industry. He combines extensive business experience with deep knowledge of cannabis and its related industries to help companies navigate complex issues. He represents a wide variety of businesses, including cultivators, manufacturers, investors and retailers. He also has significant experience with mergers and acquisitions. AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell, he is known for his business savvy and strategic thinking.


A potency tax on cannabis could be a game changer, but there are several hurdles. First, the existing system of traceability for the marijuana industry in Washington needs to be improved, which will require investment in laboratory capacity and increased oversight that would offset any potential revenues from a potency tax.

Jim Landau combines his business acumen and litigation skills to provide day-to-day advice to clients on a wide range of legal issues involving the cannabis industry. He represents clients in state, local and federal court proceedings as well as administrative hearings, arbitration and mediation. His practice includes representing entrepreneurs, investors, cultivators and retail owners. He also counsels them on corporate transactions and regulatory compliance. He is a recognized leader in the industry and was named by Indiana Lawyer as a top lawyer.

Regulatory Issues

Despite federal prohibition on cannabis, states and municipalities are taking action to develop comprehensive licensing schemes. These regulatory issues include enforcement of state cannabis laws, product liability, banking, investment and lending, intellectual property law, and litigation.

A growing number of companies are selling products that claim to have therapeutic or medical benefits — even though they have not been approved by the FDA for these purposes. These unproven claims raise significant concerns about consumer safety and public health.

Jim represents plaintiffs and defendants in high stakes business disputes in Federal, New York State and Local courts and before arbitration tribunals. His practice also focuses on providing day-to-day business counseling to cannabis and other businesses with an eye toward avoiding problems before they arise. His experience includes representing founders, directors and officers in shareholder and other business dispute cases as well as advising on securities and capital formation matters.


A number of states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, and many are considering expanding access to recreational use. This trend poses unique challenges for businesses in the industry, including regulatory, financial and compliance issues.

To assess the compliance of retail-licensed firms with the Cannabis Act, information was retrieved from the Health Canada government website including license number, licence(s) granted, province, and classes of cannabis authorized to sell. The resulting dataset was then analyzed using descriptive statistics and Poisson and logistic regressions.

This cross-sectional study found widespread violations of the Cannabis Act, with most firms having at least one violation. Recommendations include clearer wording in the Cannabis Act on rules around promotion to youth and omission of risk information, as well as enforcement of those rules.

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